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Love Your Audience

By Don Loftis | 02.26.14

Recently an editor from Preaching asked Judah Smith what he had learned about ministry that he would like to share with young preachers.  He responded this way: “When I started out early, I liked preaching more than I liked people.  I think that was a scary place to be, and I’m embarrassed to admit that.  I think as I have journeyed, I’ve fallen in love with people far more than preaching.”

The message of Scripture is crucial, but Paul says that a knowledgeable preacher without genuine love “is nothing” (I Cor. 13:2).  Before folks care what you know, they want to know that you care.

Jesus articulated His marketing plan for worldwide evangelism with these words in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  This includes love for those within the church, love for those who are lost, and love for those who are hurting.

Preaching and ministry can never be merely an act of professional excellence by which we spout a monologue of truths.  Sermons and benevolence must come from hearts that care about those they address.  Christian love is a dialogue in which we respond to the needs of those around us.  As those who have experienced the unconditional love of the Father, we are constrained to extend that same love to those we meet on the street or in the pew.

Let’s love the Gospel, but let’s not forget to “love our neighbor as ourselves.”

 


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